Many soldiers in World War One attempted to collect memorabilia or booty so that it could be brought back home, traded for food and cigarettes or for a short spot of leave.
The most valuable of souvenirs from an Allied soldier’s point of view was a German ceremonial spiked helmet – the Pickelhaube. Certain German regimental helmets were more prized than others and could win for the man who acquired one a spot of leave. It was known for men to venture into ‘No-Man’s-Land’ to search for a Pickelhaube – a very dangerous exercise but symptomatic of how highly such articles were prized.
Downed aircraft were also valuable sources of booty. The plane of Manfred von Richthofen crashed behind Allied lines in 1918 and was stripped of its engine and equipment within a few hours. Only the shell of the plane was left.
The poet, Wilfred Owen, sent home to his brother the bloodstained handkerchief of a dead German pilot whose plane he had seen crash. Not long after, Owen himself was killed.